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Lee Greenwood

Born with a good voice and a wide range, Lee Greenwood turned it into a unique voice accidentally, by overworking it in a less-than-healthy setting. Hailing from Sacramento, he used his musical training on the casino circuit, working in the green-felt jungles of Reno and Las Vegas, where he dealt cards by day and sang in dark lounges by night. The physical toll of two jobs, the vocal strain of performing six nights a week, and the damaging endeavor to sing in smoky nightclubs before the advent of smoking ordinances brought Greenwood a permanent hoarseness. He's used it to his advantage, becoming one of country music's premier balladeers. Discovered by Mel Tillis' road manager, Larry McFaden, Greenwood paid for his own ticket to fly to Nashville and cut a few demos, and it took more than a year for that effort to pay off. When it finally did, Greenwood broke through in late 1981 with "It Turns Me Inside Out," in which his exaggerated vibrato brought frequent comparisons to Kenny Rogers. In short order, Greenwood disposed of the "Kenny clone" image, but he continued to mine romantic material for the bulk of his hits. Occasional exceptions include "Touch and Go Crazy" and "Mornin' Ride," but the biggest exception is also his signature song, the self-written "God Bless the U.S.A.," which earned Song of the Year honors from the Country Music Association.

Growing up on a Sacramento farm, Greenwood was musical at a very early age, teaching himself how to play saxophone when he was nine years old. In his preadolescence, he played in a western dance band called My Moondreams. At the age of 13, he moved with his recently remarried mother to Anaheim, CA, but three years later he returned to Sacramento to live with his grandparents. Between the two moves, he played in a variety of country and Dixieland bands. Upon his return to Sacramento, Greenwood joined Chester Smith's band, which raised his profile within California. Soon, Del Reeves hired Greenwood to play saxophone, and while he was with the singer, Lee learned how to become a showman. In 1962, he formed his own band, a pop combo named Apollo, and the group moved to Las Vegas. Within five years, the group was renamed the Lee Greenwood Affair and relocated to Los Angeles, where they made a handful of records for Paramount. Once the record label went out of business, Greenwood was asked to join the fledgling Rascals by Felix Cavaliere and Dino Danelli, but he declined. Instead, he moved back to Las Vegas, where he worked as an arranger, backup vocalist, and lounge pianist, as well accompanied strippers by playing organ. By 1973, he became the lead singer and bassist in the Bare Touch of Vegas revue, while he continued to work as a blackjack dealer at the Tropicana. He held down both jobs for much of the mid-'70s.

By the end of the '70s, he was singing in lounges in Reno, which is where he met Larry McFaden, who was then leading Mel Tillis' touring band. Greenwood was initially reluctant to record, but he eventually travelled to Nashville, where he recorded a set of demos. Shortly afterward, McFaden became his manager and helped the singer sign a deal with MCA Records in June of 1981. Four months later, his first single, "It Turns Me Inside Out," climbed into the country Top 20. Greenwood's initial success was helped enormously by the similarity between his husky voice -- toughened up by years of working in smoky casinos -- and that of Kenny Rogers. In March of 1982, his second single, "Ring on Her Finger, Time on Her Hands," climbed into the Top Ten, beginning a streak of 19 Top Ten singles that ran virtually uninterrupted for the next six years. During that time, he racked up no less than seven number one hits: "Somebody's Gonna Love You" (1983), "Going, Going, Gone" (1984), "Dixie Road" (1985), "I Don't Mind the Thorns (If You're the Rose)" (1985), "Don't Underestimate My Love for You" (1986), "Hearts Aren't Made to Break (They're Made to Love)" (1986), and "Mornin' Ride" (1986). In addition to his solo hits, Greenwood had a number of hit duets with Barbara Mandrell, including the number three hit "To Me" (1984). None of Greenwood's music was close to pure country -- it was adult contemporary country-pop, in the vein of Rogers. Unlike Rogers, however, Greenwood rarely crossed over into the pop charts, and when he did, it was only in 1983, when slickly produced country-pop could make inroads on adult contemporary radio. His popularity was at its peak during the mid-'80s, when his conservative music and neo-conservative lyrics managed to capture the imagination of the nation; though "God Bless the U.S.A." only peaked at number seven on the country charts in 1984, it became a recurring theme song for several Republican political campaigns during the Reagan and Bush administrations. Furthermore, Greenwood won many popularity polls and awards from various country music magazines and associations.

Greenwood switched labels in 1990, signing to Capitol Records. His initial singles for the label, "Holdin' a Good Hand" and "We've Got It Made," were successful, but his audience steadily declined during the first half of the decade. Though he tried to retain his audience through patriotic work during the 1991 Gulf War -- even earning the Congressional Medal of Honor Society's Patriot Award and a Points of Light Foundation Award -- he couldn't successfully battle the onslaught of harder-edged, contemporary country artists that overtook country radio in the early '90s. By the middle of the decade, he was no longer charting singles, and he had begun re-recording his biggest hits for a variety of labels; he also continued to tour and give concerts. In 2000 he attempted a comeback with his new album, Same River...Different Bridge. ~ Tom Roland
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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This song makes ne proud
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cindyh54143
Love this song....so proud
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gypsyme3
GO USA 5 to 2
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Lee Greenwood Wow so good looking!!! Love your music!
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WOW BEAUTIFUL SONG! We are So fortunate to Be In the USA!!
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anita.awitt
God beds America��
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sandy.greeno u g h 1 1
God bless the usa
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A very powerful song❤️ Love Lee Greenwood ❤️
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Great song
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thanks to all troops that fought for our lives so we can be free 1 more time thanks
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I live in Minnesota now I live in Kentucky we had more people in Minnesota then hear
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I LOVE THIS SONG
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It's true God bless the usa
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I love my country I'm glad that I have freedom and 4 of July is coming up and I'm glad that usa I'm glad that I live hear
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wont forget the men who died i love you america!!!
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this song makes me want to cry I am proud of all the men that went through hard times and I love the song so much
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god bless america
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Thank you to everyone of our troops for protecting us and God bless you and God Bless America
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God Bless America and God protect our Armed forces. Thanks go out to all our veterans from the bottom of my heart. Our Freedom wouldn't mean as much with out you and God above.
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A big THANK YOU to all our VETS AND ACTIVE MILITARY ALL GAVE SOME SOME GAVE ALL
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Thank to our troops. Any branch, I know the feeling of letting go of your loved ones. My other half has made the big choice to join the Navy. I'm very proud of him
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Love his battle hymn of the republic I have to do this song in my co-op
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My grandfather Roger carroll was in the air force he died there
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this is best american song for all the soilders that are over seas
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God bless our troops thank u
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Like
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GOD BLESS THE marines, air force,specia l forces, navy seals!
Cuz there ain't no doubt that I love this land God BLESS THE UNITED STATES
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stephaniemor g a n 1 4
Love marines
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stephaniemor g a n 1 4
I'm a marine this is easton
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I LOVE THIS SONG SOOOOOO MUCH!!!!!!!! ! ! ! ! GOD BLESS THE U.S.A
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perfect song!
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Omg I love this song makes me cry every time god bless all veterans and family ��❤️. Proud to be American ������
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gypsyme3
HAPPY THANKS GIVING TO
ALLLLL
OUR TROOPS !! This Holliday !! Proud !!
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Thank you Lee, for your song to our military, past, present and future..GOD BLESS AMERICA.. ...LOVE it or LEAVE it...
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Thank you to all the Veterans
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Yes you your
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Hi
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LOVE THIS ONE. Thanks LEE Greenwood
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I love this and god bless the USA I like to stand up and solute for the solders that died and thought for the war
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GOD BLESS THE USA !! AND MY COUSINS IN THE ARMY AND MARINES!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! HUA!! And OORAH!!!
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I like god bless u.s.a
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Bless the troops?
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God bless America all over the world?
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I love all of his songs
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I'm Proud To Be American
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God Bless America
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I am surprised this song hasn't risen to offensive status...... . . . . S i n g it Lee!!
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I'm Proud To Be American
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God Bless America
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God Bless Are Troops
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